Monday, 26 November 2012

In Memoriam

Grey is the prompt for this week's 100 Word Challenge. Some twenty years ago, when I wandered through a Richmond cemetery, I came upon a grave that stopped me in my tracks. I visited several times over the following few seasons and I know I shouldn't have peeked, but I'm glad I did for the memory of it has inspired me ever since.


She was 14 when she died. A letter, taped to the headstone, told of teenage grief at the loss of a soulmate and pictured teenage revelry at discos in Heaven.

For two years the letters continued. As earthly adolescence brought rows at home and trouble with the police, the dead friend lived on as a confidante. The world would have seen tough young troublemakers, but it was bewildered souls with an innocent faith in the afterlife who unburdened themselves to the 'angel' who empathised.

And I, who had read despair in that grey tombstone, now, through their certainty, gained hope.


32 comments:

  1. I hope for them too. For anyone who has ever lost a soul mate the alternative must be unbearable. Hauntingly beautiful writing Anna.

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    1. That's kind of you to say. Indeed, I don't know how I'd face loss without belief in some kind of afterlife.

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  2. I was moved by this, the story and the writing. I remember needing someone to talk to at that age.

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    1. What was striking was how naturally they wrote to her, as though chatting in a bedroom, and what a wonderful view of teenage heaven they conjured up - her at celestial raves and parties and looking down with interest on her earthly comrades.

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  3. Well, that's given me goose bumps. I wonder if the writer of the letters knew/hoped that someone else was reading them.

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    1. Probably they'd have been horrified. They were very personal. But they were in full view of anyone who strayed past.

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  4. Wow. What a beautiful story .... Life goes on, even for the dead.

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    1. Yes, it was powerful to see that confirmed by their faith. The letters have long since ceased, but I don't doubt those friends still remember her.

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  5. Gosh that really moved me. I could feel her pain. A warming tale though.

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  6. What an honour to share such intimate details. Beautifully written as always.

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    1. I suppose it was. Although I've always felt guilty...

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    1. Indeed it was. Although wonderful that her friends were faithful to her memory for so long.

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  8. Goodness this is good and aren't graveyards inspiring, I walk in my local one frequently.

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    1. Oh they utterly are. And somehow, mostly they they seem serene, almost contented places, despite the centuries of raw grief that has passed through them. Although the modern section in my local one is hard to view - so many young people in it.

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  9. I've been known to spend a long time wandering through graveyards looking at the gravestones and imagining the people behind the words. From the battlefields of France to the grave where Philip Larkin is buried in Yorkshire, I find them inspiring but sad places, full of a million unfinished and untold stories.

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    1. Me too. I love trying to reconjure the lived of long-dead occupants. And I always hope someone will one day do it to me!

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  10. Beautifully written. The letters may not have lasted as long as the headstone, but they are a much more fitting tribute for the young girl.

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    1. Indeed they are. Would that we could all be so eloquently mourned.

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  11. Lovely.
    But what happened after two years?

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    1. I don't know. I expect the letters began tailing off as life swirled them onwards. I didn't visit often enough to gauge their frequency. I like to think that rather than forget her there came a time when they felt more confident and at ease with themselves and no longer needed to unburden themselves.

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    1. Around about then. But I was amazed it carried on so long.

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  13. Wonderful well told story. So sad when kids die.

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  14. An amazing story. Tragic, but inspiring at the same time.

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    1. So I've always thought. I've never forgotten it and often wondered what became of the teenage mourners.

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  15. DancingInTheRain1 December 2012 at 08:27

    Interesting, beautifully written and so utterly moving - all the more so because it is true.

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  16. Very sad and moving.

    I love this line:
    "the dead friend lived on as a confidante."

    Beautifully done.
    JzB

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